It is 2076: Lancer, Earth’s first starship, is on a mission to find interstellar civilizations. Although astronaut Nigel Walmsley’s experiences with alien encounters make him the expert, no one believes Nigel’s theory that machines are the dominant intelligent beings left in the galaxy and that their purpose is to annihilate all organic life.
Then the explorers discover once-living planets where only machines remain – and ruined worlds where fugitive survivors must evade omnipresent and lethally advanced A.I. warships. By the time the crew of Lancer realizes that Nigel is right, it will be too late – for the machines have already found Lancer…and Earth.
©1984 Gregory Benford (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I prefer intelligent, complex stories with deeply developed characters. I'm not a fan of most popular novels; my taste is more eccentric.
I wasn't wild about the first novel in this series but I had a feeling it was setting the stage for very exciting things. I'm so glad I hung in there! Nigel is in his element aboard Lancer, a ship modeled after the Mare Marginis wreck. Peopled with a crew of experts in every field, the ship is exploring the universe. I finally begin to admire Nigel and understand why he is the hero of this story. Nigel is a frontiersman. He is looking for the truth and nothing will stand in his way of discovering it. Lancer is tracing a radio transmission far into space, and we see Nigel grow older as it takes years to reach their destination. He tenaciously holds onto his desire to make contact with other life forms and to prove his theory that machine life is up to no good out there in the universe.
Meanwhile back on earth, strange creatures have been deposited (by guess who?) into the world's oceans. The story alternates between Nigel on Lancer, and a new hero on earth, Warren. In a chilly turn of events, we are introduced to the "swarmers", alien sea creatures that bombard ships and devour the humans inside, making sea travel impossible. Warren is a shipwreck survivor, clinging to a make shift raft and beating starvation and dehydration by killing and eating the lone swarmers that attack him.
On Lancer, earth's transmissions take years to reach the crew, so they are not yet aware of the swarmers. Instead they are focused on a planet called Isis, where organic life forms have evolved to communicate through radio waves in order to outsmart the machine life that has suppressed them.
There is so much action in this novel. Everything starts to fit together and I understand why Benford spent so much time on the themes presented in "In the Ocean of Night." Nigel is rushing toward the Galactic Center and the story is picking up speed! I can't wait to listen to the next book!
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